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Committed to impacting positively on the lives of people made poor

Visit to the Latin America Mission Area

Posted on 17 June 2024

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In April, Programme Manager Naidi McDonnell headed to Peru and Bolivia to visit the Edmund Rice Latin America projects. The local mission office team, led by Elmer Hurtado, welcomed Naidi to the region and organised her visit to the project sites. Naidi began her trip in Peru by visiting the Fe y Alegría project in Lima. The Fe y Alegría project is located in the San Juan de Lurigacho neighborhood of Lima, one of the most dangerous areas in the city. The project operates in the school and provides students with a supportive environment to develop and pursue their aspirations as human beings. The project focuses on improving education outcomes, especially for at-risk students, through the provision of academic reinforcement and psychological support. The project also supports students struggling with family and personal problems by providing counselling services throughout the year for students who present academic problems and behavioural difficulties. The project works with the parents of the students through parental workshops to ensure the students’ needs are being met. The team works holistically to empower all students to reach their potential and supports senior students to access tertiary education. (Caption: Fe y Alegría students hard at work in the classroom)

‘One notable wider impact of the project has been the children’s self-esteem and confidence. The team provides a safe space for the children to discuss concerns, giving them back their voice. All the children interviewed said they felt heard and have been able to raise issues affecting them both in school and at home.’ -Naidi McDonnell

20240425 1052580After her visit at Fe y Alegría, Naidi headed north to Chimbote to visit the Reaching New Horizons and Defensoría Edmundo Rice projects. The Reaching New Horizons project began in 2019 and serves children and families living in extreme poverty. Peru is still economically recovering from the pandemic, and families are experiencing the impacts. Similar to Fe y Alegría, this project operates in a school and provides academic reinforcement and psychological support to the students and their parents. The parents from this area are all informal workers who earn their living in low-paid casual jobs. Many of the children live in single-parent households; working hours are long so many children are left at home alone. The project provides a safe space for students to learn and grow. The team recognises the importance of artistic expression for the personal development of children, so they facilitate music, dance, drama and art classes for the entire student body so that they can channel their feelings and emotions into positive expressions. The students see the artistic workshops as an opportunity to enjoy their life as children and forget about problems at home. Parents interviewed spoke of the positive changes they experienced following engagement with the project. One parent had been experiencing challenging behaviour from her twins. Physical discipline was the only way she and her husband knew to control them, and it was not working. She attended a parenting workshop facilitated by one of the Reaching New Horizons psychologists where she learned techniques to improve her children’s behaviour through positive reinforcement. She was so impressed that she returned to the project team to ask for the training material so that she could distribute it to the rest of her family. This is one of many examples where parents spoke of the changes brought about by the project, not only on their children’s lives, but their whole families. (Caption: Naidi and Elmer with the children after a dance class)

20240503 163237While in Chimbote, Naidi was able to visit the Defensoría Edmundo Rice (DER) team in their offices at the Edmund Rice Mundo Mejor school. The DER project seeks to promote a fair, peaceful and inclusive environment within the Edmund Rice Network of schools in Latin America. The project conducts workshops and campaigns in school communities in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay to educate, promote and advocate for human rights. The project also works on a national and international level with a focus on the rights of children and women. The team works in partnership with other human rights organisation to challenge governments to change unjust laws and policies related to the implementation of human rights. The project uses its grassroots networks to collate information on human rights violations to prepare and submit reports to the United Nations through Edmund Rice International. Besides spending time with the project team based in Chimbote, Naidi was able to monitor their activities happening as Fe y Alegría and Centro Hermano Manolo are both active members of the project. (Caption: DER activity taking place in the Fe y Alegría School)

Naidi concluded her trip to Latin America by visiting the Centro Hermano Manolo (CeHM) project in Bolivia. The centre provides children who work casual jobs in the local marketplace with a space to come to receive academic tuition and counselling support. Naidi was impressed how this project tackles the issue of child labour in a holistic and pragmatic manner. The longterm accompaniment of these children has resulted in sustainable results, evidenced by the impressive number of children completing school. Further proof of this project’s successes are their beneficiaries; many of those who once worked on the streets are now attending university. Additionally, many of the project’s volunteers are former beneficiaries who want to give back to the centre.

Screenshot 2024 06 04 at 11.02.58Before departing Latin America, Naidi was able to meet Misean Cara mentor Patricia Ynoñan Garcia while in Lima. Patricia works closely with the partner projects and the mission office so it was good to connect with her to discuss the new Misean Cara grant system and opportunities for further collaboration. Naidi was also able to do some sightseeing while in Latin America. She spent a day exploring the Huascarán National Park with Elmer. They managed to overcome altitude sickness to reach the summit! We thank the mission office, the project teams, the governors and the whole Latin American Edmund Rice community for such generous hospitality to Naidi!




Edmund Rice Development is a registered company limited by guarantee. Registered in Ireland, Registered Charity Number: 20071004, Company Number: 463400, Revenue Charitable Tax Exemption Number: CHY18492, Registered Address: 23 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, D02 AR55.

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